There was no doubt in anyone’s mind Saturday, April 21, about whom Tracy High School Principal Jason Null was speaking.
Noll was in the foyer of what that morning was officially named the Dr. James C. Franco Building. The principal’s comments stressed the appropriateness of naming the building for the superintendent of the Tracy Unified School District, and were among many heard during the dedication ceremony.
Initially, the ceremony was scheduled for in front of the classroom and administration building that was completed in 2008 with a façade matching that of the original 1917 Tracy High building. But a hot morning sun moved the program indoors.
Jill Costa, president of the TUSD board of trustees, welcomed those present with praise not only for Franco’s efforts to provide state-of-the-art facilities throughout the district, but also for improving and expanding academic programs.
“Hiring and retaining world-class staff members is also a primary goal of our district,” she said. ”We have a fantastic leader who, as you all know, is nothing less than phenomenal.”
Other praise came from Mayor Brent Ives, who recalled attending classes in the original 1917 building as a Tracy High student.
“It (the original building) was a special place — hallowed ground. To replace it with a building that looks so much like it brings back all those memories. I know that my grandchildren will know the James C. Franco Building is hallowed ground. And that’s really heartening.”
Renata Guzman, representing present Tracy High students, said, “When I heard that the final decision was to dedicate the building in Dr. Franco’s name, I was extremely pleased and excited. I can tell that students at my school were as well.”
When it came time for Franco to respond, he called Denise Wakefield, former district facilities planner, to join him.
He said that when he and Wakefield surveyed the needs for new school facilities in Tracy, bringing buildings at Tracy High up to modern standards was the top priority.
Franco and Wakefield teamed to urge voters to pass Measure E, a 2006 school bond that provided funding for renovating Tracy High and completing West High.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the dreamers who kept the dream of a rebuilt, renovated Tracy High in their hearts for many years,” Franco declared, noting that with the construction and opening of Kimball High, Tracy has provided state-of-the-art campuses for all three comprehensive high schools in the district.